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Sharpening stones

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Hi Folks -  I just got the DMT stones Mary has for sale.  The two that are 3 inch by 8 inch.  I was trying to use water stones and had some old gouges that needed LOTS of sharpening.  Wound up with straight line grooves in the water stones.  I have the flattening stone to fix it, but I really don't want to spend all my time doing this ...     I think the diamond stones are going to fill my needs much better.  What does anyone else use for fixing up really old and dull gouges?

Certainly using a grinder for either damaged or REALLY dull gouges is a good way to go.  I use a Veritas MkII Power sharpening system.  http://www.leevalley.com/us/Wood/page.aspx?p=48435&cat=1,43072

I primarily use that for chisels and plane irons but did use it for some old gouges I bought at Handworks 2017.  Works great.  Once something is sharpened using that method, I switch back to a diamond stone, sandpaper, and a strop with Tormek honing paste.  Dang, that's sharp.

I used to use a grinder whenever I needed to fix up any older gouges, reshape or remove a lot of metal. But recently I have used a 400 grit diamond stone which removes metal fast - scary fast. It may take a bit longer than a grinder (but surprisingly not much longer), but I feel I have more control working it by hand.

Be careful if you are grinding on a standard bench grinder to not let it heat up. Every second or so, quench it in water. If it gets so hot that the metal changes color, you may lose the temper on the edge of your blade. There are some pretty impressive sharpening systems out there (and also impressive $$$) that have figured out the overheating issue by running water continuously over the stone, or moving so slowly that heating is no longer an issue. Just be cautious that whatever system you use to remove metal quickly, if it is positioned wrong, it can also go bad quickly. Take your time and don't rush it.

I already had a 125 diamond stone.  (2 inch by 8 inch)  That is what I use to start an old out of shape gouge.  Really works well. Now I need to figure out what to use for the inside shapes.  I am thinking of taking a piece of wood and shaping it, then using honing compound on it.  Basically making my own slip.  Or making another one to use with sandpaper.  This should work, shouldn't it?

I doubt honing compound will be aggressive enough to actually remove that wire edge from the inside of the gouge. However, 2000 to 6000 grit sandpaper around a dowel should work. You can find this at auto supply stores or woodworking stores.

I use a Rikon slow speed grinder if I really need to remove a lot of metal or re-shape a gouge. I then use a power honing system I purchased from Chipping Away to put the final edge on the tool. I also find that if I use the power honer on the tool as I work I rarely have to go back to the grinder or a stone to maintain a good edge.

After doing some training with Nora Hall before she passed.  I took her advice and got the Koch Sharpening System:  Felt wheels of varying density paired with sharpening compound.  And not really that expensive.

I also like the Tormek system for heavy controlled grinding that is water cooled.  The other side of the Tormek has leather wheels of different shapes that remove any burr quickly.  The Tormek is pricey but a joy to work with.

Both systems are great for sharpening carving tools.

I'll trade easy for a little money any day of the week - and twice on Sunday.  ?

When I first started carving I could not afford any fancy sharpening stones or machines (I still cant, I spend any spare money on fishtail gouges) and I still sharpen with wet and dry sandpaper (dry). If the tool is very blunt I may need 120/240 but work up through the grades to 2000 grade. It does not take long and  I have a chance to watch the gouge slowly sharpen and dont let the edges blunted , after the 2000 grade a good strop gets the tool scary sharp.

For sharpening and strooping the inside bevels I have a number of different size pieces of doweling from broom handle down to about 5mm , and this covers all gouges. It works for me.

I do find that wiping a black sharpie over the cutting edge helps to make sure you are sharpening at the correct angle.


David, I'm glad to hear positive feedback about the sandpaper sharpening. I have not tried it, but have recommended this for a quick, inexpensive set-up. It's also great for when you are traveling and don't want to take bulky, heavy and potentially breakable stones with. You really need to make sure this is laid on a very flat surface (I have heard marble tile works great - but then it sort of defeats the purpose of being portable 🙂

I have used the technique of folding 2000 grit sandpaper to use as a slipstone to get into the inside of a 1 or 2mm veiner  (#11). And the dowel idea is great for all the curved gouges.


I'm never quite sure what a basic set of beginner diamond stones should include.  I currently have a 300 grit, 600 grit, and 1200 grit (which I guess equates to coarse, medium, and extra fine?).  The brand is Ultra Sharp II.  From reading on this site it sounds like I should also add an 8000 grit to put the finishing edge on; is that suggested?

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